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October 19, 2018

HIV-positive woman, 29, denies infecting baby by breastfeeding

Nakuru Law Court sphoto By Ben Ndonga
Nakuru Law Court sphoto By Ben Ndonga

A woman was charged yesterday with deliberately infecting a nine-month-old baby with HIV through breastfeeding.

 Nakuru principal magistrate Joe Omido heard that Susan Njeri, 29, knowing she was HIV-positive, intentionally and wilfully breastfed the baby infecting her with the deadly virus.

 Initial HIV tests from a hospital returned positive, but the court has directed that the results be verified.

 Njeri denied the charges and asked to be released on bond. She said she was unwell and needed urgent medical attention.

 The prosecution, through counsel Sandrah Kosgey, objected to her application, saying the police had yet to complete investigations.

“I pray to have the accused detained for seven days to allow police more time to complete investigations, including tests on the baby to determine if he was indeed infected,” Kosgey said.

Omido said the offence was serious and directed that the accused be remanded until October 2, when she will apply for bond.

“The accused is to be remanded at Njoro police station. The baby and the accused should be taken to hospital for treatment,” he ruled.

Omido ordered Njeri and the baby tested. Police reports said Njeri is on antiretrovirals and had been a close friend of the baby’s mother, who was not aware of her HIV status.

Read:Demo on March 15 after Nairobi restaurant 'shames' breastfeeding mum

 Mother was away

 Njeri was arrested on Monday after reports she was found breastfeeding the baby in her mother’s absence.

She allegedly committed the offence on September 18 in Gichobo, Njoro subcounty. It is alleged that the mother was away and had left Njeri with the baby.

Neighbours — also unaware of Njeri’s medical status — saw her breastfeed the baby.

According to the Health ministry, the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmissions stands at 3.7 per cent. It says some mothers fail to get proper treatment during pregnancy and birth.

Related: Feel free to breastfeed here, Pope tells mothers in Sistine Chapel

The ministry’s report shows that mother-to-child transmission accounts for more than 90 per cent of new HIV infections among children. It says this can be prevented if HIV-positive mothers adhere to antiretroviral treatment.

Some 85 per cent of HIV-positive mothers are currently on ARVs to prevent them from passing the virus to their babies.

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